The menu’s already been renovated, and now the restaurant is under construction at Merchants Bistro and Hardware Bar on Broadway (merchantsgrandcafe.com), so a little sawdust in A-B’s glass of Liberty School cab wasn’t a surprise (and was quickly and cheerfully fixed). The bartender told us that the sophisticated bar that had occupied the southern end of Mickey Wakely’s Alamo Heights neighborhood haunt is being turned into a late-night hangout. Meanwhile, drinks are served at a new, plywood setup — not uncomfortable, and appropriate for a building that housed a deco-era hardware store — just inside the north entrance (held closed during our visit by a can filled with rocks). When the restaurant first opened about a year ago, it served metropolitan bistro fare, including a frisee salad with poached egg and a delicious paté. But that approach has been modified with some Middle America items, which for us included a half-dozen unremarkable but serviceable oysters for the low-low price of $3, and a very tasty pizza with rosemary. A-B liked Merchants original bar for its big-city grownup feel, but we’ll be back in a couple of weeks to see what’s happening late night.
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